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Barbara Jane Messer Hale

September 2, 2015
Lake Placid News

Barbara Jane Messer Hale - born in the Roaring Twenties, raised in the Great Depression, matured in World War II and contributed to the post-war Baby Boom - died Aug. 27, 2015 at age 90.

She was a wife, mother, weaver, outdoorswoman, and co-publisher and business manager of The Lake Placid News in the 1970s.

She was born Aug. 18, 1925 in Ridgewood, New Jersey, the second daughter of John and Jesse Messer. As a young woman, she was a competitive tennis player, holding local championships and showing well in state tournaments.

In World War II, she was a farmerette at a Borden's dairy in the Hudson Valley. She later graduated from Bucknell University where she was a member of Honor House, residence for a score of senior women who had made contributions to the college through activities and study.

She married Ed Hale in 1948 and began her family shortly thereafter in Buffalo. She gave birth there to three daughters.

In 1972, the Hales bought The Lake Placid News where Mrs. Hale served as co-publisher, business and circulation manager. She also took a photography course at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and became its chief photographer and darkroom expert.

During her tenure, the weekly was nominated for two Pulitzer prizes.

"We were all greatly impressed by your entry," the 1977 Pulitzer chairman of the Public Service jury wrote the Hales. "It was one of those under consideration right to the last."

Mrs. Hale hiked extensively. She climbed the Adirondacks' 46 high peaks three times - once with her husband, again with a daughter and a third time with her granddaughter. Her 46er number is 713.

For a time, she lived on Upper Saranac Lake, where she regularly rowed her guideboat and paddled her canoe. She and her husband paddled in the 90-miler from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. The couple usually won its class. She called it the "geezer group."

In 1980, Mrs. Hale volunteered as an Olympic biathlon official - often assigned to remote sections of the cross-country course. She was a partisan, nevertheless, always ready to cheer a rifle-toting USA competitor on his or her way.

She loved dogs. She owned boxers, bassets, bloodhounds and, recently, Portuguese water dogs. Over the years, they often accompanied her on her ski jaunts and hikes.

Mrs. Hale is survived by her husband Ed; three daughters: Stephanie Hale of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, Melissa Hale-Spencer and her husband, Gary Spencer, of Altamont, New York, and Heather Hale of Stowe, Vermont. Stephanie produced three grandsons, Peter Benoit of Washington, D.C.; Andre (Rugge) Benoit of Brooklin, Maine, and Edward Benoit of Boothbay Harbor. Melissa produced two granddaughters: Magdalena Hale Spencer of New York City, and Saranac Hale Spencer of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Heather produced three grandsons: Benjamin Hutchins of Stowe, Vermont, John (Jake) Hutchins of East Burke, Vermont, and the late Sam Hutchins.

The funeral will be private.

Instead of flowers, donations may be made to the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy, where she often volunteered. Its address is: 8 Nature Way, Post Office Box 65, Keene Valley, NY 12943.



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